|Madame de Pompadour as a Sultana (1752)|
By 1786, the rules were starting to change (and would eventually morph into the familiar patterns that you had to shed in order to grapple productively with C18 fiction). The interpretive skills, specific to C18 literature, that you have acquired and honed in this course are not as useful for understanding Vathek as they were for the other things that we've read.
In a world that expected fiction to "delight and instruct," Vathek does neither. If it "delights," it also confronts you with the spectacle of violence, gore, and ruthlessness. If it "instructs," it does so in a very roundabout manner: its surface lessons are too trite (avoid eternal damnation!) or bizarre (heaven is an eternity of sexless immaturity!) to be useful.
How do the tools that you bring to bear on more modern literary texts help you in making sense of Vathek?
What would have have liked to say in class today but didn't have the opportunity to?
What would you like to add to today's discussion?
Final thoughts on Vathek?
Deadline: Saturday midnight.